“You’re always trying to escape. You’ve been like this since we met.”
My husband’s words hurt, but not because he shot them at me with malicious accusation, but because they were solemn and true. Escape artist. That’s what I used to call myself in my adolescence, but it was a playful way to describe my ability to evade the messy situations and emotions my friends all seemed to endure. I guess I never realized I carried that with me in life. Escape artist. There is always a Plan B with anything I have ever wanted and I have realized that, too, is a form of escapism. It’s hard to fail when you constantly evade it.
I daydream daily about what I think I want. A small home tucked away in the woods far from the chaos of city life. A library with large windows that is left undisturbed unless I am hiding within its walls. A quiet life where I can be left alone. This has remained the same despite its constant relocation. Will I live in Oregon or Colorado or Texas or Maine? Germany or Japan? The point is that it’s always somewhere else and somewhere far away. What is it exactly that I am trying to escape from?
No matter how much I do or what pace I take my life feels stagnant. I completed a degree while working 50-60 hour work weeks despite my baby brother’s untimely death. That’s something to be proud of. It wasn’t enough for me. I quit that job to have the time to travel because I thought that would give me perspective, but instead discovered that I allowed people in my life to heavily influence my decisions. I escaped to those mountains with hopes of learning how to escape my life and came out instead with more frustration than when I entered them. I bought a house because I thought having a home I knew I couldn’t be suddenly and unexpectedly uprooted from would make me happy. Instead I feel trapped because I wasn’t aware how desperately I clung to fire escapes. To elude the fear of entering graduate school I started a second bachelor’s to avoid the disappointed tones and judgment because I’m “too smart for this to be it.” That sentence haunts me as well because it placed on me the heavy burden of expectation for what others wanted from my life. I know this caused me to lose passion in the few things that brought me happiness throughout my life.
What happened to my paintbrushes and turpentine? When did I drop my lense? Where’s my violin? When did my voracious appetite for literature leave behind piles of unread books? Where did I misplace the ink for my pen? Will I find them again when I somehow arrive to this unknown destination I’m seeking? Will I finally be able to move beyond the constant stream of self-conducted interviews?
What do you want? I don’t know.
Who are you? I don’t know.
What makes you happy? I don’t know.
Who do you want to be? Someone better.
How do you do that? I don’t know.
Why did you do this? I thought I’d be happy.
Why aren’t you? I don’t know.
What’s your problem? I don’t know.
You’re too smart for this to be it. Leave me alone.